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City Has Now Opened 28 Classrooms of Emergency Child Care, Offering Care to More than 230 Kids of Essential Workers

SEATTLE (April 13, 2020) – Today the City announced it has opened 28 classrooms of Emergency Child Care to offer more than 230 spaces for children of essential workers. The Emergency Child Care program offers no-cost childcare to families of healthcare professionals, first responders, and pharmacy and grocery workers who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 response.

“As Seattle sees the results of effective social distancing, we must thank and protect the front-line workers who are allowing the majority of our region to stay home and stay healthy,” said Mayor Durkan. “These classrooms of emergency child care for essential workers are allowing our heroes going to work every day to have one less thing to worry about – finding and paying for child care.”

The City of Seattle launched its Emergency Child Care (ECC) program on March 30 following the closing of the regional schools. As of today, 17 childcare sites are open to the families of these essential workers, with 28 classrooms and seats for 233 children.

Workers in the healthcare, first responder, pharmacy, and grocery sectors are invited to apply for the program on the Department of Education and Early Learning website. DEEL has also partnered with various employers and partner networks representing these essential sectors  to identify families in need of care.

Venus Pacheco is one of the front-line grocery workers who is able to continue working thanks to the City’s Emergency Child Care. “This was a blessing for me. It’s one less thing I have to stress about in life,” said Venus. “Jessica at Launch and her team are simply amazing. They supply breakfast, lunch and snacks while taking temperatures and washing hands throughout the day.” You can read more about Venus Pacheco’s story here.

If you are in one of the qualifying essential sectors and did not receive an email into the program from your employer, you can apply for participation online. DEEL staff will respond to your request within 24 hours and match you with the licensed childcare provider closest to your area with open slots.

“I want to thank all our Seattle Preschool Program and Pathway providers who have adapted their classrooms, their programs, and even their own lives in the middle of this crisis to help provide quality care for the families who need it to continue their critical work,” said Dwane Chappelle, Director of the City’s Department of Education and Early Learning. “We’re proud to have each of you as partners as we respond to this unparalleled challenge.”

All child care providers in the Emergency Child Care program are operating under new guidelines from Public Health—Seattle & King County for child care administrators operating during COVID-19. These health and safety guidelines emphasize smaller group sizes for social distancing, daily health screenings, and greater frequency of cleaning and sanitizing, among other health and safety measures. 

The City of Seattle has partnered with community based Seattle Preschool Program providers to stand up our 233 seats of childcare for the kids of essential workers. The program is currently open to children 3–12 years old who are toilet trained. The largest SPP provider, Seattle Public Schools, has opted to provide alternative learning arrangements for its preschool classrooms rather than open 5 schools with 10 classrooms at each location.  

The City will continue evaluating if additional resources can be committed to expand beyond these 233 seats. The City is also partnering with Child Care Resources and other community organizations to find care for other families in need. If you need care for your infant or toddler or care outside city limits, or if you are not employed in one of the essential sectors listed above, please contact Child Care Resources at 206-329-5544.